Improvement projects often involve deciding whether to renovate or start from scratch with new materials. Converting to an energy-efficient building raises such concerns, and the choice can be confusing and frustrating.
For example, are new build houses more energy efficient in every scenario? Review the vital considerations for weighing an energy retrofit against new construction.
What Are the True Needs for an Energy-Efficient Building?
Consumers and businesses often jump into environmental sustainability projects with dreams of significant savings and a high return on investment. Such returns are feasible with the right solutions. Installation of solar panels can lead a building owner to break even after eight years, with approximately 17 years left on a system. The property value may also increase.
However, the owner could regret the decision if that installation voids a roof warranty or cannot yield the estimated kilowatt hours. This possibility highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to energy-efficient building. Owners, managers, and investors must consider all factors before implementing changes, whether a new build or an energy retrofit.
Environmental, social, and governance expert Matt Snyder puts it this way: “Building from net zero… means taking a holistic approach on building construction practices, products, specifications, but then also how [a property] is used.”
Dean Makemson, President of ECO Group, Inc., refers to an energy-efficient building in northern Wisconsin where the occupants only use the furnace once or twice a year. “The house stays almost 55 degrees year-round because of how well they constructed it… All these different aspects play into controlling that indoor/outdoor environment but then also using products that are sustainable.
“Although it was 20% more expensive to build [the home] this way on the front end, because of the sustainability, at about year 15 or 20, it nets out to actually going the other way.”
Understanding their individual use cases in real time helps owners, managers, and investors make intelligent decisions and avoid pouring their dollars into a bottomless pit in the pursuit of energy efficiency. Proper research and guidance also prevent a building from becoming unsafe or impractical.
Are New Build Houses More Energy Efficient Than an Energy Retrofit in Every Circumstance?
Owners looking to increase energy efficiency should take a detailed view of their situation to determine whether new build construction is necessary or if an energy retrofit can do the job for an energy-efficient building. An energy retrofit or rejuvenation is often the preference as it usually costs less and is the greener solution.
However, the required renovation and retrofitting could become so extensive that a new build is better. Even when building new, opportunities may exist to reuse and repurpose elements of the old infrastructure.
What Should Owners Remember Before Doing a Deep Energy Retrofit?
Environmental renovations cannot take merely a surface-level approach. To yield tangible benefits, building owners need to consider doing a deep energy retrofit to cover all needs. Property owners should start by reviewing several critical factors, such as the current ESG rating of the location and its potential.
Gaining optimal savings on energy expenses is not as simple as finding renewable energy sources that cover current and potential bills. Companies will often sell energy-efficient building solutions based on a worst-case scenario. While a building owner or management team must be ready to cover energy needs for all situations and maximum usage, they should first eliminate waste to avoid overbuying energy solutions.
Dean Makemson encourages homeowners to make simple changes before deciding on their energy efficiency investments. He says: “Install energy-efficient light bulbs and LED lights, which reduce power consumption by as much as 90%. Water waste is another area to focus on in the home. Fix any leaky faucets or pipes. A dripping faucet will waste over 5 gallons per day or 2,000 gallons per year. Install a low-flow shower head to reduce water consumption.”
As with any construction project, various contractors must complete different aspects of the work. When teams don’t work together, the potential for incompatibility increases. Such incompatibility can lead to an inefficient building, even if it’s constructed of premium materials. An outside consultant mitigates this risk by coordinating with all parties to solve the actual needs of owners and investors for years to come.
How Can ESG Property Consultants Help You Find Solutions for a More Energy-Efficient Building?
Whether a property requires a new energy-efficient building or an energy retrofit depends on the particular circumstances. As property owners and managers explore ESG initiatives, they want to be sure to make fiscally sound decisions.
Get in touch with experts on the E in ESG. Contact ESG Property Consultants for guidance on making informed decisions on your next energy-efficient building project.